Friday, April 18, 2014

Birthday Week

It is my birthday this week. Not a major birthday, just another birthday. I am celebrating it by preparing for the birth of my next grandchild. He is due in the next few days, so we will be sharing the month for celebrations. I decided I wanted to do a mural for his room, (yes it is a boy!) but my daughters house is four hours away. I did the next best thing... a portable mural 20" x 48". There was not much wall space so it had to be narrow.
I wanted to share with you my process.....some of the photos are not great, but you can see how I changed my mind as I went on....
Stablio Pencil on unstretched canvas...I was fighting with the curling canvas! Hard to see the bear in the tree trunk and a "fox" to the right.

Added collage and texture. I used text from an old schoolbook about being "good". I changed the fox to an otter - my son in laws request. To save time I did an image transfer instead of drawing (and re-drawing)

Here is the close up of the added texture. I used a strip of textured wall paper and gel medium through a stencil to simulate a tree trunk. 

Blurry IPhone photo, but wanted to show the first stages of painting. I used inexpensive Blick paint - Red, Yellow, Blue and white. All the colors were mixed from them. I changed out the bear for a rabbit and the car on the branch became a zepplin....
Here is the finished piece.

Close up of the bunny and otter.

My version of a happy monster....not too scary. Only the best for my new grandson!

Monday, March 31, 2014

Training for Failure

One of the biggest challenges as a teacher of art is when a student takes a risk and says "I ruined it!" Failure ugly word. We have all been there, loving what we are working on then doing something and DISASTER... We have heard, repeatedly, that there are no mistakes in art, only opportunities. As you gaze at your piece, it does not feel like an "opportunity" it feels like a failure. It should have worked, but it didn't. 

Even after years of art experience and many paintings, I still have those disaster moments. One of them happened today. I posted a photo of this painting on Facebook...

I photograph all my paintings before I put varnish on them to avoid the glare in the photo. I thought the painting was done. I varnished it and went to bed. When I arrived at the studio I found this....

I had used red alcohol ink at some point in the background and the varnish reactivated it!

Here is a close up...of course it was the face and there is nothing to be done, the ink will continue to rise to the surface...

I lamented over it for a bit and walked away, lesson learned about alcohol ink and how it behaves. I started thinking that this can be a good thing, something to use to its advantage in the future. When I came back I decided to embrace the piece as it is. The red on the face is like a mysterious tattoo and it fades away enough so it does not look like a bullseye on her face (my first impression) It also gives the piece a looser, raw look that I am striving for, so after some self talk the "failure" has become a gift.  
I look at this example as training for my reaction to failure. Training myself to take a deep breath and turn a negative into a positive. It is how I want to respond to challenges in my art and life and I am sure that there will be plenty of training opportunities in my future! 

How do you approach your art when something goes wrong? I would love to hear....

Friday, March 21, 2014


We are all storytellers. We tell our stories in words and pictures everyday. Just spend a few minutes on Facebook and notice that every word and picture is a story unfolding. When I finish a painting I have hopes that there is a story there. Sometimes they shout out and sometimes they hide from me. I just finished a series of  3 small paintings. I worked on all of them at the same time and each painting revealed what it wanted to be pretty quickly. I did my "shape-searching" and found shapes that made me want to keep going and see them to the finish.
I showed all three paintings to my husband and a friend on separate occasions. Both picked out the same painting and said "there is a story there." It is a mystery that I will continue to chip away at, why some paintings speak to people and others do are the three paintings....

 I would love to hear your comments about which (if any) one makes you think....
"There is a story...."

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

New Classes and 5 Reasons to love INK!

I have finalized my teaching schedule through September. I am doing a Mixed Media series at my studio in Grants Pass, OR. I have decided to work my way through some of my favorite mediums and see how far we can take them. For more information on my studio classes you can click on the links above. I will also be teaching at CREATE- Chicago in August and Art-Is-You - Petaluma in September. Art-Is-You registration is open now, so check it out. As soon as Create Chicago goes live, I will post my classes here on the blog.
The first class will be Mixed Media Play with INK, so I though I would share some of reasons I am so in love with ink.

No. 1: Even simple india ink, a bamboo skewer and copy paper can make something unexpected....

No. 2: The color of ink is really saturated and you can do amazing things with black and white or color:

No. 3: Because ink is fluid, you can do amazing things on fabric:
Acrylic ink and Walnut ink on raw canvas with a few pencil details added.
No. 4: Acrylic Ink works great on top of gesso - gives the surface a watercolor effect when diluted and dries permanent, so you can keep working without fear of reactivating it.

No: 5: Drawing with ink is my all time favorite because it takes my control away. 

Here is a progression of my recent painting. I used unstretched, gessoed canvas 24"x 30" and sewed pockets in the top and bottom to receive a dowel. This way it can be hung without expensive framing. I applied collage and texture to the surface and then drew my character with the dropper:
Worked on the floor then lifted it for drips....

Mid painting process with just black and white paint and more ink.
Finished piece...I think!

Wednesday, February 12, 2014


I am having fun "re-imagining" old artwork and playing with new concepts. Here is another before and after:
This is a piece I did back in 2011. The face is pretty bizarre...even for my standards. I loved the body, eyes and the 2 birds on the head, so it was tricky to work around the painting. I added a book page to cover up the bottom part of the face to make it easier to paint, then added a new figure's face who worked better with the winged body. At one point I painted over the turquoise with orange, hated it, painted a warm grey over it and sanded it back a bit so the orange showed through.
Here it is a few stages past that...already dramatically different. The pigtails on the main figure came about because of the odd line at the top of the head. I had to keep it if I wanted to keep the birds!
I painted over the other bird - it was distracting me. I did not like the nose and went a bit crazy trying to fix it. Somehow the turquoise crept back into the face....
I move the nose over a bit....Here is the final piece:
At least I think so....I am going to let it sit a bit, before I varnish it.

My take away from this exercise:
Each painting has something new to teach me.
Keep at it until you love it again.
Many layers make for a much richer background.
Love turquoise, orange and gray together.
When you can't make it work, cover it up with collage or paint!

When things are drying, I try to work on journal pages. I am still getting used to the handmade paper in the leather journal I picked up. It is becoming clear that I need to just relax and not try to control the surface. I have sketchbooks for drawing. This is becoming my "get loose" book.
Here are a couple of pages:
Watercolor and collage

Medium resist and watercolor
Playing with which watercolor set I like best ended up being  really fun.
The Ultimate in RE-IMAGINING

Stay Curious!

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

January Flying By

January is almost over and it feels like I have not been doing much in the way of studio work. I decided to take a look at what I have actually done this month .....

I finished four teddy bears and sent one to a new home in Canada. 

I started 2 online courses - Carla Sonheim's Year of the FairyTale
I am drawing frogs and looking for my inner princess

I have also been participating in Misty Mawn's Full Circle course and finished one piece last week. The prompt was to make a mandala. I started off with that in mind and found it a bit tricky to work in a circle. Especially since I always end up adding a figure....
I was really glad I did this on a panel instead of paper! I am, of course falling behind, but I know the prompts are there when I need some inspiration. 

I have written and submitted an article for Somerset Studio's May issue - look for it in the Melange section. 

I submitted some drawings for the Art-Is-You - Coloring Book Project

After the holiday break from painting, I find it difficult to get back into my groove, so I paint over old paintings. This is one of my favorite January projects.  I figure there is nothing to loose and I already have some elements that I like so this is what happened with 2 of my paintings:





You can see I kept what I liked and got rid of what I did not like. I really recommend trying to re-invent some of your older pieces. It is quick and very gratifying. I have one more in progress and will share when I am done. 

This month I also applied to teach at several retreats, one art show and cleaned, painted and re-arranged my studio (photos are coming - it is a bit of a mess right now!)

The point of this entry is that my perception of what I had completed was way off. We rarely give ourselves credit for what we accomplish - maybe not even realizing all that we have done. Take a moment and really look at the small things you do over time. I may not have completed a large painting, but all the small things add up and are "practice" and inspiration for the larger works.
Stay Curious, and Breathe!

Monday, December 30, 2013

Nesting, Wrapping up 2013

After lots of teaching and travel, I felt the need for some quiet time. This involved cleaning the studio, moving furniture (actual and intellectual) getting rid of stuff  I no longer use and above all, staying off the computer!! I have been nesting, playing, enjoying family. The holiday season is when I begin my reflections on what was accomplished this year and planning my goals for next year.
During my "quiet time" I had an awesome weekend in San Francisco for window shopping and trying out my new camera.

I  have plugged in my sewing machine and been making a few dolls and teddy bears. It is so fun to work with fabric again, I forgot how much I loved it!

I finished my last painting for the year. It was done on a piece of a closet door we recycled into a canvas for me! It started out as lots of collage and texture and evolved into this "moth" like girl. It is all about will I transform in 2014?

I have been preparing class proposals for 2014. I am so excited about the class I will be teaching at Art-Is-You Petaluma in September. 2 days of painting my favorite subjects - Folk and Fairy tales! Click the link under Pages on the right for more information. Registration goes live January 1.

I treated myself to a special journal to work in this year. It is handcrafted with a soft leather cover and handmade watercolor paper. I am anxious to dive in, trying to get over the "what if I ruin a page" stage, so I did a test drive on the last page!..... If you are interested, here is the link to Iona's website.

Lastly....I have been published in Lesley Riley's new book "Quotes Illustrated." An inspiring and magical collection of quotes illustrated by many artists in many mediums. A great book to own and give as a gift to a creative friend!
Wishing you a happy New Year, full of curiosity and creativity!
Hugs from the studio!